Author: Jennifer Nelson
Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse (2021)
Harm Eden is about how our fucked-up present-day civilization is built on originary and timeless systemic damage. The fantasy of nature and/or art as echoes of a purer creation reinforces this foundation all the more. This book attempts to think through and simultaneously away from this evil fantasy and the civilization it upholds by exploiting the tension between history and poetry.
"Beginning with an invocation to Clio, the muse of history, Jennifer Nelson's Harm Eden reaches for the muse's hand, stands amid the rubble of our collective mythologies and origin stories, and surveys the damage with a wry, irreverent intelligence. In Nelson's poems art collapses time, but time is unruly; it invariably reconstitutes, resists human interventions, upturns the illusion of linearity and progress. 'I know what time looks like,' Nelson writes with unsettling defiance, 'I have to believe the right world follows,' even as what follows comes trailing the ghosts of the broken world that came before."
"We often seem to be quite the trio: people, nature, and culture—like three drunk friends with our arms around each other's shoulders singing our way down the street, turning on each other when the road we're on turns out to lead, well, nowhere. The poems in Jennifer Nelson's captivating Harm Eden will make you reconsider what you thought was comfortable or comforting about the act of looking, whether it's at our earthly flora and fauna, our own soft beastliness, or the permanence of pasts we've trapped in artistic depiction. How casually an observer might put everything in order, waving a wand and ultimately naming it all 'history'; 'I have given my life to history / and I do not care about history.' Resonant and subversive, Harm Eden is an invaluable companion during 'this place and time and pose // of which // some are more the fulcrum / of the hourglass than others.'"
"I love this book: intertextual, entwined, weaving edges with language and events both current and bedrock. The poems of Harm Eden offer important comment, inquiry, and correspondence as they dialog with art, history, and perception. 'Everyone comes to examine the dreadhole at least once.'"–Hoa Nguyen